History ETDs


Neil Dodge

Publication Date



This thesis concerns the lives of captives taken by the Navajo people during the 1846-1863-time period in New Mexico. The goals of this work are two-fold: First, to expand upon the available literature regarding the captivity experience of people taken in raids or conflict and to explain those captives roles within a Navajo context. The second goal addresses the need for more study of American Indian practices regarding slavery, particularly through the use of American Indian oral tradition and stories. This has been accomplished through the use of a comparative slavery analysis with another global indigenous culture. Further, through the use of Navajo oral tradition, language and cultural philosophical concepts; this work will lay the foundation for understanding the cultural background necessary to understand the lives of captives. And finally, this thesis will study the lives of several captives and explain their significance to the larger narrative of American History. Through these points, it will become clear previous studies about the lives of captives or slaves have been narrow in their focus. Through the use of Navajo oral traditions, language and culture; this research highlights the necessity for incorporating culturally relevant understandings into narratives of American Indian history.

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Durwood, Ball

Second Committee Member

Bieber, Judy

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